Air engagements of the Gulf War
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|Persian Gulf War Air Combat|
|Part of Persian Gulf War|
|Commanders and leaders|
Khalid bin Sultan
Ali Hassan al-Majid
|1,000+ aircraft||750 aircraft|
|Casualties and losses|
3-4 aircraft destroyed|
4 aircraft damaged
44+ aircraft shot down|
(in air-air combat varying on report)
During the Gulf War of 1990–1991, Coalition air forces faced the Iraqi Air Force, the fourth largest air force in the world at the time. In the opening days of the war, many air-air engagements occurred, between Iraqi interceptors and a variety of different Coalition aircraft.
Persian Gulf War
17 January 1991
- USAF F-15C vs. IRAF MiG-29
- USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF Mirage F1s
Later on the same night, an F-15C scored a double-kill against two Mirages with AIM-7 Sparrow missile. His wingman scored another kill on a third Mirage F1, for a total of three kills in the dogfight.
- USN F/A-18s vs. IRAF MiG-25s
On the first night of the war, two F/A-18s from the carrier USS Saratoga were flying outside of Baghdad when two Iraqi MiG-25PDs interceptors from the 96th Squadron engaged them. In the beyond-visual-range (BVR), one of the Iraqi MiGs, piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Zuhair Dawood, fired an R-40 missile, shooting down one of the F/A-18's as it was travelling Mach 0.92. The pilot, Lieutenant Commander Scott Speicher, was killed. It is widely believed he died upon the impact of the missile.
- USN F/A-18s vs. IRAF MiG-21s
- USAF F-15Es vs IRAF MiG-29s
On the opening night of the war two Iraqi MiG-29s attempted to engage a flight of USAF F-15Es. One of the MiGs crashed while flying at low altitude but the other MiG pressed on. One of the F-15Es fired an AIM-9 Sidewinder when the MiG locked him up but missed. Several other F-15Es simultaneously tried to engage the lone MiG-29 but were unable to get the kill. One F-15E was actually flying past the Iraqi jet and maneuvered in for the kill but the pilot hesitated to take the shot because he was unsure of his wingmen's location and because he did not get a good tone with the Sidewinder missile.
- USAF EF-111 vs. IRAF Mirage F-1
On the first night of the war a USAF EF-111A Raven "Spark Vark", flown by pilot Captain James Denton and Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) Captain Brent Brandon, was on an electronic warfare mission ahead of a group of jets on a bombing run. Several IRAF Dassault Mirage F1s came in and engaged the flight. One of them went after the unarmed EF-111. Denton executed a tight turn while Brandon launched chaff to avoid missiles fired by the Mirage. An F-15C on the same flight, piloted by Robert Graeter, went after the Mirage to protect the EF-111. The Mirage launched a missile, spotted by Brandon, which the Raven avoided by turning and launching chaff. Denton decided to head for the deck to try to evade his pursuer. As he went down he pulled up to avoid the ground, the Mirage followed him through, but did not pull up in time and crashed. An unarmed EF-111 had thus scored an air-air victory against a Dassault Mirage F1, although Graeter was credited with a kill. The EF-111A crew were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
- USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF MiG-25s
Two IRAF MiG-25s fired missiles at a group of F-15Cs escorting a bombing run in Iraq (which were evaded by the F-15s). The F-15Cs gave chase, but were forced to give up when the MiGs outran them. A total of 10 missiles were fired at the MiGs.
- USAF F-111s vs. IRAF MiG-23
An Iraqi MiG-23 fired a R-24T missile at an F-111 on a bombing run and scored a hit, although the bomber made it safely back to base. Another similar incident occurred with the same Iraqi interceptor several minutes later, this F-111 also made it back to base despite the severe damage to the aircraft. This is Iraq's only success of the Gulf War using MiG-23s.
- IRAF MiG-29 vs USAF F-111 and B-52G
An Iraqi MiG-29 struck an F-111 aircraft with an R60 missile, though the sturdy F-111 stayed airworthy. Several minutes later the same pilot fired a R27 missile at a B-52G on a bombing run, severely damaging it.
19 January 1991
- USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF MiG-25s
In a brief dogfight, two F-15Cs engaged and shot down two Iraqi MiG-25s attempting to engage them, both using AIM-7 missiles. One was destroyed by Captain Rick Tuleni and the second by Captain Larry Pitts.
- USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF MiG-29s
Two F-15Cs, piloted by Captains Craig Underhill and Cesar Rodriguez gave chase to a pair of MiG-29s detected by AWACS. The Iraqi aircraft, one piloted by Captain Jameel Sayhood, promptly turned and engaged the two American fighters, and one of the most dramatic dogfights of the Gulf War ensued. The two MiGs and F-15s flew straight at each other, each attempting to visually identify the other. Underhill was facing Sayhood's wingman, while Sayhood himself was facing Rodriguez. Underhill fired an AIM-7 at Sayhood's wingman, scoring a head-on hit and killing the opposing pilot instantly. Simultaneously, Sayhood gained a lock on Rodriguez, throwing him onto the defensive. Rodriguez dove to low altitude in order to clutter Sayhood's radar and break the lock-on, and dropped flares to counter his adversary's infra-red search-and-track. However, after seeing his wingman shot down, Sayhood disengaged and fled to the north. Considering the engagement over, Rodriguez and Underhill turned south to rendezvous with a KC-135 tanker in order to refuel, but Sayhood reversed course and set off after them, prompting them to reengage. With the now lone MiG-29 closing head-on with the pair of F-15s, Underhill gained radar lock-on, but did not fire due to a glitch in his IFF interrogator system keeping him from being certain he wasn't about to shoot down a Coalition aircraft. Underhill initially thought he shot down an allied aircraft. Sayhood sliced into the American formation, causing a classic merge. Underhill kept Sayhood locked-on and climbed, while Rodriguez committed to the merge in order to visually identify the opposing aircraft as hostile. As they passed head-on, Rodriguez identified it as an Iraqi, and each pilot turned left to engage the other. Sayhood believed in his MiG's better turning radius and tried to get into a firing position on Rodriguez' tail but failed. Rodriguez outmaneuvered the Mig, managed to get firing position on him and successfully acquired a missile lock. Both aircraft lost altitude through the sustained hard turning, bringing them perilously close to the ground. Fearing that Rodriguez would obtain infra-red lock-on and shoot him down with an AIM-9, Sayhood attempted to disengage using a split-s. Rodriguez didn't follow Sayhood's manoeuver, and observed him eject just prior to his MiG impacting the ground - he'd commenced his escape maneuver too low. It was reported years later by Iraqi sources that the Captain was rescued by some farmers after he broke his leg and evacuated to a local hospital.
- RAF Tornado GR.1 vs. IRAF MiG-29
It has been claimed by some sources that an RAF Tornado (ZA467) crewed by Squadron Leader Gary Lennox and Squadron Leader Adrian Weeks was shot down on 19 January by an R-60MK (NATO reporting name: AA-8 Aphid) missile fired from an Iraqi MiG-29 piloted by Jameel Sayhood, however this aircraft is officially recorded as having crashed on 22 January on a mission to Ar Rutbah.
- USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF Mirage F1s
Two F-15Cs destroyed two Mirage F1s with AIM-7 missiles.
24 January 1991
RSAF F-15C vs. IRAF Mirage F1s
See: Attack on Ras Tanura
26 January 1991
USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF MiG-23s
In what is considered a textbook "beyond visual range" or BVR kill, four MiG-23s took off from an Iraqi airbase. One of them turned back with mechanical problems, however the other three pressed on. Four F-15Cs were flying when AWACS reported the MiGs. The four F-15s lined up, were assigned targets and fired AIM-7 missiles at all of them, destroying all three MiGs within seconds of each other. Only three of the F-15C pilots were granted kills, as the fourth missile didn't reach the MiG until after it had already been brought down. One of these kills was Cesar Rodriguez's, his second of the conflict.
27 January 1991
USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF MiG-23s and Mirage F1
29 January 1991
USAF F-15C vs. IRAF MiG-23
An American F-15C shot down a MiG-23 fleeing to Iran with an AIM-7 missile.
USAF F-15C vs. IRAF MiG-23
A USAF F-15C eliminates an Iraqi MiG-23 in a short-lived dogfight with an AIM-7 missile.
30 January 1991
USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF MiG-25s
2 February 1991
USAF F-15C vs. IRAF IL-76
6 February 1991
USAF F-15C vs. IRAF MiG-21s
USAF F-15C vs. IRAF Su-25s
An F-15C spots two Iraqi Su-25s and gives chase, locking on, and shooting down both planes with AIM-9 missiles.
USAF A-10A vs. IRAF Bo-105
A USAF A-10 ground attack aircraft, piloted by Captain Robert Swain shoots down an Iraqi Bo-105 helicopter using its GAU-8 30mm cannon. Swain fired approximately 75 rounds with his cannon on his first pass. He then fired approximately 300 rounds on his second pass, causing the helicopter to explode. It is the first air to air victory recorded by an A-10. It earned Swain and his aircraft the nickname "Chopper Popper." The aircraft is now on display at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.
7 February 1991
USN F-14 vs. IRAF Mi-8
USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF Su-22s and Su-7
USAF F-15C vs. IRAF Mil-24
11 February 1991
USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF helicopters
Two F-15Cs shoot down two unidentified Iraqi helicopters by using AIM-7 missiles for both.
13 February 1991
IRAF Dassault Mirage F1 vs. EF-111
An Iraqi Dassault Mirage F1 piloted by Capt. Nafie Al-Jubouri engages a USAF EF-111 piloted by Capt. Douglas Bradt with his electronic warfare officer Capt. Paul Eichenlaub. The EF-111 crashes into the ground while executing maneuvers to avoid a missile fired at them by Al-Jubouri, thus the Mirage F1 scored a maneuvering kill.
14 February 1991
USAF F-15E vs. IRAF MI-24 Hind
An F-15E Strike Eagle fighter/bomber dropped a laser-guided bomb onto a MI-24 Hind Helicopter in the air. The helicopter was on the ground initially loading up commandos, though it took off. Even with it taking off they left the laser on it and the bomb hit it when it was "200 or so" feet in the air. A special forces team on the ground witnessed the event.
15 February 1991
USAF A-10A vs. IRAF Mi-8
An A-10A ground attack aircraft shoots down an Iraqi Mi-8 helicopter with its GAU-8 30mm cannon.
Post Persian Gulf War
20 March 1991
- USAF F-15C vs. IRAF Su-22
In accordance with the ceasefire, an F-15C shoots down an Iraqi Su-22 bomber with an AIM-9 missile.
27 December 1992
- USAF F-16 vs. IRAF MiG-25
17 January 1993
- USAF F-16 vs. IRAF MiG-23
A USAF F-16C shoots down a MiG-23 when the MiG locks the F-16 up.
- USAF F-16s vs. IRAF Su-22s
Two IRAF Su-22 "Fitters" open fire on two USAF F-16s in protest of the no-fly zones. No aircraft are damaged in the encounter.
Late 1990s and 2002
Following Desert Storm, two no-fly zones over Iraq were set up, and enforced typically by US and UK aircraft. In one incident, an attack on up to 600 Kurdish refugees by Iraqi helicopters at Chamchamal, northern Iraq, was observed by a flight of F-15Es. As they were not allowed to open fire, the F-15Es instead conducted several high speed passes as close as possible to the Iraqi helicopters to create severe wake-turbulence, while aiming lasers at the helicopter's cockpits to attempt to blind their crews; this caused the crash of one Hind. Afterwards, USAF leadership ordered F-15Es not to fly below 10,000 feet (3,000 m) to deter a repetition.
5 January 1999
- USAF F-15Cs and USN F-14Ds vs. IRAF MiG-25s
A group of four Iraqi MiG-25s crossed the no-fly zones and sparked a dogfight with two patrolling F-15Cs and two patrolling F-14Ds. A total of six missiles were fired at the MiGs, none of which hit them. The MiGs then bugged out.
9 September 1999
- USN F-14 vs IRAF MiG-23
A lone MiG-23 crossed the no-fly zone heading towards a flight of F-14s. One F-14 fired an AIM-54 Phoenix at the MiG but missed and the MiG headed back north.
23 December 2002
- USAF RQ-1 Predator vs. IRAF MiG-25
In what was the last aerial victory for the Iraqi Air Force before Operation Iraqi Freedom, an Iraqi MiG-25 destroyed an American UAV RQ-1 Predator after the drone opened fire on the Iraqi aircraft with a Stinger missile.
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